Watermelon growers can see the results of no-till production in watermelons at a Friday, May 15, virtual field walk. The session will be shown from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s Vegetable Research Station near Kibler in Crawford County.


The free one-hour virtual field walk will be available as a webinar on the Zoom online platform. The tour will begin at 10 a.m. To register free, visit https://bit.ly/Winter-Cover-Crops-No-till-Watermelon-Production-VFT.


Horticulture specialists from the Division of Agriculture will explain best practices for incorporating cover crops into no-till watermelon production, what cover crop mixes work best, and how to plan for weed, disease and insect pest management, according to a news release.


The tour will be hosted by Amanda McWhirt, extension horticulture specialist; Aaron Cato, extension horticulture integrated pest management specialist; Steve Eaton, director of the Vegetable Research Station; Alden Hotz, graduate student in the department of horticulture and program associate at the Vegetable Research Station; and Matt Bertucci, research scientist in the department of crop, soil and environmental sciences.


The tour is an effort of both the research and extension arms of the Division of Agriculture, the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service.


Webinar topics will include: characteristics of different winter cover crops, concept of no-till cover crop management for watermelon systems, no-till impacts for different aspects of watermelon production, pre-emergent herbicide use and pest scouting.


“The research our team is doing has shown good results regarding the potential to use winter cover crops for no-till watermelon production systems in Arkansas,” McWhirt said. “We know that cover crops are important to protecting the soil from erosion, but we have also observed that cover crops can suppress weeds well into the watermelon season and can contribute nitrogen to the crop, which can support good fruit yields.


“We look forward to taking participants of the webinar on a virtual tour of our research plots and showing them some of these results up close,” she said.


For people not able to view the virtual tour as it is broadcast, a recording will be available on the Division of Agriculture’s horticulture YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWzPEeCm2tCZ0yIBKA7wIsQ .


The field walk is part of the Arkansas Soil & Water Conservation Virtual Field Trip Series. It focuses on the conservation benefits researchers have developed concerning water quality, irrigation water use, climate change, soil health, profitability and sustainability through their partnership with farmers on selected farms, including some farmers involved in the Arkansas Discovery Farms Program.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources and Conservation Service provides funding to the U of A Division of Agriculture to integrate the efforts of the Arkansas Discovery Farms and the Arkansas Soil Health Alliance. The goal is to educate a statewide network of participants through a series of no-cost virtual research-based, interactive demonstrations and educational experiences.


For details on the Soil & Water Conservation Virtual Field Trip Series, visit https://bit.ly/NRCS-AR-Soil-and-Water-VFT-Webpage.


For details on extension programs in Arkansas, contact a local Cooperative Extension Service agent, visit www.uaex.edu or on Twitter at @UAEX_edu.


The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without discrimination.